Growing up I never once heard my family say to me, “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” And for a person to not receive forgiveness nor be taught how to forgive others, I naturally became a woman who held grudges, became bitter, and would wish ill will towards others in a heartbeat!
If you’ve been following my series on, Becoming a Christ-Centered Wife, then you know that today I’m addressing The Forgiving Wife. But as you can see by the title here, I’ve changed her name. The principle of forgiveness will be covered in this post but I felt the perspective needed to shift a bit. After all, a woman can’t be a forgiving wife unless she is a wife looking at the Cross. 🙂
When Eric and I first began talking with one another before we began dating, one of the initial questions he asked me was, “Are you forgiving?”
My response: “Yes.” But I didn’t quite understand why he was asking me this question. As a babe in Christ I thought, what kind of absurd question was that? I’m a Christian woman, of course, I’m forgiving. But what I didn’t realize at the time of my spiritual immaturity was that not all professing Christian women are forgiving women. 🙁
He continued to ask me more about forgiveness…
My response: “Christ forgave me and because of this, how could I not forgive others? It just doesn’t make sense. And I’m commanded by God to forgive, otherwise, He doesn’t forgive me.”
Later he told me about a prior relationship that he once had where forgiveness wasn’t extended, even when he asked to be forgiven.
Now I had a better understanding of where he was coming from with the whole forgiveness thing. And after he heard some of my upbringing, along with my stories of the poor choices I made before I came to Christ, he could see why I didn’t have an issue extending it because forgiveness was so easily extended to me by my Savior. I am that woman who sinned much and therefore was forgiven much. (Luke 7:37) If Jesus has so willingly forgiven me, how can I not so freely extend forgiveness to others?
If I choose not to be forgiving, well then, I’m not looking at the Cross- I’m looking at me.
Just so you know, I don’t forgive others because it’s easy for me. I do it for these three reasons:
1) Because Jesus Christ bled out on the Cross for my sins.
2) The Lord has forgiven me.
3) Because I am commanded by God to forgive others.
Make that 4 reasons- I already know what it’s like to live with a bitter and hard heart and I’m not looking to revisit my old ways if my life depended upon it!
So, question time for you…
What will happen to your marriage if you choose not to forgive your husband? What will happen to your heart towards him? Will your heart grow closer to him or colder? Which result would you like to have in your relationship?
There’s no magic trick to forgiving others. Nor is there a 10 step program for feeling better about oneself. And it’s impossible to change the heart of man. Jesus Christ alone gives us the power to forgive and He alone has the power to change and transform any heart, including mine and yours.
Now let’s look to the Word regarding forgiveness, shall we?
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. Psalm 32:1,2
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:25,26
What would happen to your relationship with Christ if you choose not to forgive your husband (or anyone else for that matter)?
Since the Bible commands us to forgive others, are you willing to obey your Lord? Or do you want to go through life with anger and resentment?
In my own personal life, I have learned to be quick to forgive because I don’t want to break my fellowship with the Lord, plus I don’t wear anger and bitterness well! 🙂 But let me make something clear. Extending forgiveness doesn’t automatically erase the memories of the pain.
Forgiving and forgetting are not the same issues. Forgetting the offense may take a while to move past. Letting go of what was said or the wrong committed against you might be something you’ll struggle with on a daily (or hourly) basis. Keep looking to the Cross in order to move past your pain. This is what I try to do in my own life, otherwise, my heart will easily turn bitter.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Col. 3:13 (NLT)
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37
Now let me touch on a very common issue that can take place between a husband and wife. The husband (or wife) says he’s sorry but he’s not truly repentant. They say they’re sorry just to pacify you but you know they don’t really mean it. (You’ll know by one’s actions if they are repentant based on how they act.) And saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean you’re repentant of your actions. A repentant heart is a heart that seeks to change its behavior.
Let me address some of these lame, so-called apologies:
“I’m sorry you feel that way.” I’m sorry you’re offended. You’re too sensitive and it’s your issue. These are not apologies. These are cop-outs and excuses for not examining their own behavior.
According to the Word, when our brother offends us, we’re to go to him. If your guy is a Believer, then he’s your brother in the Lord. Approach him with humility and let him know his actions have offended you. At first, he might not like the admonishment, but give him some time for the Holy Spirit to pierce his heart. If over time, nothing transpires, and this is an on-going issue in your marriage, then I’d recommend you seek help from the Body of Christ, according to the Scriptures below.
Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ Matt. 18:15-16
If you’re stilled sinned against and no apology is given or the heart is not repentant, then forgive anyways. Yes, I know this is not easy! I apply this same principle in all relationships of my life. This heart action keeps me right with the Lord regardless of the other person’s behavior. And to me, protecting my relationship with Christ is more important than nursing a bitter heart even if I’m justified.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
When you put your eyes on the Cross, forgiveness will naturally spill from your heart.
Still having a hard time with forgiveness? Try writing down your sins. I believe this little exercise will help you to see all that the Lord has forgiven you of. Lord willing, this will pierce your heart and allow you to see things through your Father’s eyes.
Will you choose to be the wife who looks at the Cross? I do hope so!
More posts in the Becoming a Christ-Centered Wife series:
- The Content Wife
- The Confident Wife
- The Wife Who Bases Her Life on the Bible rather than Her Emotions
- The Wife Who Looks at the Cross
- The Faith-Filled Wife (Part 1)
- The Faith-Filled Wife (Part 2)
- The Wise Wife
- The Patient Wife
Live a poured out life for Christ,